POMEROY — The silence of the Rock Springs Fairgrounds for the past year will be broken by this time next week.
Carnival rides will be going into place on the midway, exhibitors and concessionaires will be hustling about getting ready for a busy week, animals will be moving into the barns, and all the buildings empty for the past year will be filling up with things for fairgoers to buy, to be educated about, or just to see, as the week kicks into full gear for the 149th Meigs County Fair on the Rock Springs Fairgrounds.
A highlight of opening day will be the 3 p.m. dedication of the new Ridenour Family Livestock Arena.
A major donation from the Ridenours who have been active in fair activities for the past 50 years made it possible for the Meigs County Fair Board to move forward on replacing the old livestock ring built in the 1970s.
The new facility is 60 x 100 feet, nearly twice the size of the old show ring. It features a drive-through weigh-in area, a champion alley for animals at one end, portable bleachers, special lighting, a fire alarm system, and a nice office building for the Meigs County Junior Fair Board.
While the show ring, being the newest structure on the fairgrounds, will be taking center stage at the fair featuring today’s accomplishments, the old log cabin built in 1814 and moved to the fairgrounds where it was reconstructed in 1987, will be telling a story of the lifestyle of Meigs County’s early settlers.
The two-room cabin with a stone fireplace and a narrow stairway leading to an attic was the homestead of the Edward Foster family, one of Meigs County’s pioneer families. It was built on land owned by Jacob Goeglein, ancestor of the late Fred Geoglein, a longtime fair board member.
Once the cabin was dismantled and reconstructed on the fairgrounds, period furnishings for it were donated by the Goeglein family.
Every year at fair time the cabin is open to the public where programs relating to the lifestyle of Meigs County’s early settlers is provided through programming and display of paraphernalia and photographs by the Meigs County Historical Society.
Harness horse racing has been a perennial favorite for Meigs County fairgoers for years. This year for the first time in decades, pari-mutuel wagering on the horse races will be returning to make it more exciting for some.
This year ‘s races, for years held on Saturdays, will be moved to Thursday afternoon with racing to start at noon. The program lists classes for 10 to 13 races for pacers and trotters with two of those classes being designated as “free for all.”
Horse racing has been a popular sport in Meigs County for longer than the fair has existed. History tells of horse races on country roads in colonial times, of racing on dusty roads in the Laural Cliff area and taking place in the Rock Springs community in days long before the oval track was constructed.
While the Meigs County Fair is observing its 149 anniversary this year, not all of the fairs were held on the Rock Springs fairgrounds. nor were fairs held every year. The first fair was actually held in the Laurel Cliff Community in 1853 and after about five years there was moved to Racine for a time, before eventually settling in the Rock Springs community.
The stately old grandstand from which racing enthusiasts still watch the action was designed by Lore Davis and built in the late 1880s following the end of the Civil War.
It is unique among all others in the state of Ohio in that it is designed as a half-moon on the first turn of the oval half-mile track.
In 1983, the grandstand was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the years, improvements have been made by the Meigs County Fair Board to preserve and stabilize the unique structure which is so much a part of Meigs County’s history.